NHL Morning Coffee Headline – June 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headline – June 7, 2022

The Avalanche sweep the Oilers to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins fire coach Bruce Cassidy and Kyle Connor wins the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche are heading to the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Artturi Lehkonen scored in overtime as the Avs swept the Oilers, sending them to the Final for the first time since 2001.

2022 Western Conference Champion Colorado Avalanche (NHL.com).

The Avalanche opened the scoring but the Oilers took leads of 3-1 and 4-2 before the Avs regained the lead on third-period goals by Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Zack Kassian scored late in the third to tie the game at five and force the extra frame.

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar finished the night with a goal and four assists while Landeskog and Lehkonen each had a goal and an assist. Leon Draisaitl had four primary assists, Zach Hyman tallied twice and Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist for the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was the most exciting of this short series but it also had an air of inevitability about it. Despite the Oilers taking two 2-goal leads they simply lacked the goaltending and defensive depth to hold it.

The Avalanche are a much deeper club, enabling them to overcome those deficits and prevail in overtime. That included adjusting to the absence of center Nazem Kadri, who returned to Denver to repair a broken thumb suffered in Game 3. His return for the remainder of the postseason is questionable.

Injuries to some key players also hurt the Oilers in this series. Despite Draisaitl’s offensive heroics, he was pretty much playing on one leg after suffering an ankle injury during their first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings. Defenseman Darnell Nurse revealed he’d played the entire postseason with a torn hip flexor. Winger Kailer Yamamoto missed Game 4 with an upper-body injury suffered in Game 2.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins yesterday announced they fired head coach Bruce Cassidy. During Cassidy’s six-year tenure behind the bench, they reached the playoffs six times, including the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa cited front office unhappiness with Cassidy’s offensive tactics and approach to optimizing player performance (especially those of the younger players) as the reasons behind this move. However, he’s among the pundits who are critical of this move, suggesting the club’s Stanley Cup window is now closed. Some believe Cassidy is taking the fall for management’s missteps over the past six seasons.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Kyle Connor won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. He enjoyed a career-best performance (47 goals, 93 points) while collecting just four penalty minutes in 79 games. That was the fewest among the league’s top-100 scorers with at least 50 games played.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Connor for this well-deserved award. Like all the previous winners, he’s a fine example that this game can be played at a high level without resorting to questionable behavior or taking costly infractions.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point remains sidelined by a lower-body injury and won’t suit up for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.

NHL.COM: Rangers center Ryan Strome is expected to play against the Lightning tonight after leaving Game 3 on Sunday with a lower-body injury.

TSN: Speaking of the Rangers, prospect winger Vitali Kravtsov has rejected an extension to his KHL contract and appears to be eyeing a return to the NHL next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time will tell if he’s back with the Rangers or another club. His falling-out with management over his playing time earlier this season prompted considerable trade speculation.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said the lingering effect of COVID-19 took a toll on his performance this season. He had just five goals in 27 games before the Christmas break. His performance improved over the remainder of the campaign, finishing with 21 goals and 58 points, as well as seven goals and 12 points in 12 postseason games.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger tweeted that Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine has fully recovered from the back injury that sidelined him from the final seven games of the season. There’s no update, however, on the status of the restricted free agent’s contract negotiations.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed defenseman Chris Wideman to a two-year, $1.525 million contract.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Long-time Blackhawks forward Eric Nesterenko passed away Monday at age 88. He spent 21 seasons in the NHL, starting in 1951-52 with the Toronto Maple Leafs before joining the Blackhawks in 1956-57, spending the remaining 16 seasons in Chicago and helping them win the Stanley Cup in 1961. He had 250 goals and 574 points in 1,219 games. Nesterenko appeared in the 1986 movie “Youngblood” and also served as a consultant on the film.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Nesterenko’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2022

Tuukka Rask makes a triumphant return to the Bruins, the 2022 All-Star Game rosters and captains are revealed but several notable players are passed over, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tuukka Rask made 25 saves in his season debut as he backstopped the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. David Pastrnak tallied all of the Bruins’ goals, including the game-winner on the power play to snap a 2-2 tie in the second period. Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist for the Flyers while teammate Carter Hart turned aside 33 shots. With 44 points, the Bruins moved to within three points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

Speaking of the Penguins, they fell 6-2 to the Los Angeles Kings as the latter tallied four unanswered third-period goals, including three in a span of 1:23. Kings captain Anze Kopitar scored twice and set up another while Sean Durzi had a three-point performance and Jonathan Quick made 27 saves. The Kings (43 points) move into third place in the Pacific Division.

Nikita Kucherov collected two assists and Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 24 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Vancouver Canucks 4-2. The Lightning holds a two-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the overall standings with 55 points. The Canucks have lost three of their last four contests.

The New York Rangers Rangers got a 37-save shutout from Igor Shesterkin in a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks. Chris Kreider scored twice, including his first NHL shorthanded goal. Braden Schneider scored in his first NHL game. The Rangers (52 points) sit atop the Metropolitan Division while the Sharks (41 points) still cling to the final Western Conference wild-card berth with a one-point lead over the Calgary Flames.

Speaking of the Flames, they were upset 4-1 by the Ottawa Senators. Nick Paul tallied twice while Matt Murray made 27 saves for his first win of the season. The Flames have dropped four straight games.

Connor Hellebuyck picked up the shutout with a 33-save performance to blank the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Andrew Copp scored two goals and Kyle Connor scored shorthanded. The Jets (39 points) are two points behind the Sharks and one back of the Flames.

A four-goal third period carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 6-0 thumping of the Carolina Hurricanes. Elvis Merzlikins turned in a 31-save shutout and Yegor Chinakhov scored two goals. The loss leaves the Hurricanes two points behind the Rangers in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Third-period goals by Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Seattle Kraken 2-1. The Blues extended their home points streak to 13 games while the Kraken have lost eight straight. With 49 points, the Blues are one point behind the first-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

The Predators, meanwhile, saw their five-game win streak halted in a 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Jeff Skinner tallied twice while Aaron Dell made 29 saves for the Sabres.

Mathew Barzal broke a 2-2 tie to lift the New York Islanders over the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Barzal’s teammates Zach Parise and Josh Bailey each collected two points as the Isles’ played their first game in 11 days.

Philipp Kurashev scored in overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2, handing the latter their five straight loss. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane also scored to snap a 13-game goalless drought. The Canadiens played without goalie Jake Allen, who is sidelined for a week with a lower-body injury. Teammate Chris Wideman also missed this game as he’s serving a one-game suspension for head-butting Boston Bruins forward Erik Haula.

HEADLINES

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov, New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox and Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar were among the notable first-time selections for the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game to be held in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena on Feb. 5.

Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid were named captains of their respective division squads as chosen by fan voting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow the link to see the full rosters as well as the candidates for the “Last Man In” for each division to be decided by fan voting.

THE SCORE: Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand, Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom, Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen, Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin were among the notables passed over for selection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The exclusion of Markstrom, Rantanen and Ekblad could be a result of being overshadowed by their more well-known teammates. Marchand’s snub is likely tied to his well-earned reputation for questionable play.

Shesterkin still isn’t as well-known as he should be, though his profile should improve if the Rangers remain among the league’s top clubs. It won’t help him become a participant in this year’s All-Star Game but could help him garner recognition for next season’s event.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: A partial tear in a thumb tendon has sidelined Oilers goaltender Mike Smith for at least a week, possibly two. The club has recalled Stuart Skinner from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Signing Evander Kane could help resolve that issue…oh, wait, he’s not a goaltender…never mind…

SPORTSNET: Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere and Winnipeg Jets center Paul Stastny are among the notable players added to the NHL’s COVID protocol on Jan. 13.

AHL’s Iowa Wild signed Eric Staal to a professional tryout contract.

TSN: The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said individual active NHL players will not be permitted to take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, any player under an NHL contract cannot participate in the Beijing Olympics.

THE SCORE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Quebec finance minister Eric Girard the league isn’t aware of any opportunity at this time that would lead to a franchise returning to Quebec City.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As one observer noted on Twitter, that was Bettman’s polite way of saying, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Oh, and for those of you saying, “What about the Arizona Coyotes?”, should that club be relocated, it’ll likely be to another American city in the Western Conference such as Houston.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2021

Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby resigns amid reports linking Habs to Jeff Gorton, Artemi Panarin and Andrei Svechnikov fined, Islanders games postpone through Nov. 30, game recaps and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MELLANBY RESIGNS AS HABS ASSISTANT GM, CLUB LINKED TO GORTON

SPORTSNET: Scott Mellanby resigned yesterday as assistant general manager of the Montreal Canadiens amid reports linking the club to former New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton.

Former New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton (NHL.com).

Elliotte Friedman reported there’s a widespread belief Marc Bergevin will not return as Canadiens general manager following this season. Friedman felt Bergevin recommended Mellanby as his successor or for a more significant role with the club. There had been recent discussions between team owner Geoff Molson and Mellanby but the latter resigned after being informed the club was going in a different direction.

The Canadiens reportedly sought and received permission from the New York Rangers to speak with former Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton. Friedman said Gorton would not be taking over as the Habs GM but could fill the role of president of hockey operations or another senior front-office role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Based on the initial reports, it appears Molson has made a mess of this situation by upsetting Mellanby and alienating Bergevin, who is now a lame-duck general manager. TVA Sports’ Louis Jean reports Bergevin was hurt by how this went down, that he was kept in the dark and only learned about this situation through the media.

Nevertheless, this could still work out for the Canadiens if the end result is Gorton taking over as president of hockey operations. It would be a significant step toward returning this floundering franchise to respectability and perhaps a long-overdue rebuild.

Gorton did a fine job building up the Rangers roster. He signed Artemi Panarin, acquired Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba and drafted Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko. Before that, he was an assistant general manager for several seasons with the Boston Bruins. During a brief period as their interim GM in 2006, he acquired Tuukka Rask, drafted Phil Kessel, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic, and signed Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard.

Molson has indicated the role of Canadiens GM has to be filled by a Francophone or someone who is bilingual. Gorton is neither but he would hold a role of considerable influence within the organization with input on trades, signings, drafting and player development.

Should Gorton get the role of hockey ops president, finding Bergevin’s successor becomes their next priority. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels mused about Patrick Roy, Roberto Luongo, Martin Madden Jr., Vincent Damphousse and Mathieu Darche as possible candidates. Jeff Marek reported the Canadiens have not contacted Patrick Roy about a role in the organization.

It will be interesting to see how the coming week unfolds in Montreal.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Speaking of the Canadiens (6-15-2), they got a rare win by upsetting the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3. Jake Allen made a career-high 47 saves for the win while Josh Anderson scored twice and Tyler Toffoli and Christian Dvorak each had a goal and two assists. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby also had a goal and two assists while teammate Bryan Rust remains sidelined by an undisclosed injury. Canadiens defenseman Chris Wideman missed the game with an upper-body injury.

The Florida Panthers’ season-opening home winning streak has ended at 11 games after falling 4-1 to the Seattle Kraken. Former Panthers goalie Chris Driedger made 33 saves while teammate Jordan Eberle celebrated his 800th career NHL game with two goals.

Mikko Rantanen’s hat trick powered the Colorado Avalanche over the Nashville Predators 6-2. Cale Makar collected three assists while Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky each had two helpers. Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram returned to the lineup after missing six games with a concussion.

The Edmonton Oilers ran up a 3-0 lead over the Vegas Golden Knights and held on for a 3-2 victory. Mikko Koskinen turned aside 36 shots while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman and Jesse Puljujarvi scored for the Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held off the score sheet by the Golden Knights.

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar had three assists and Carl Gundstrom tallied twice to double up the Ottawa Senators 4-2. Kings forward Brendan Lemieux was ejected from the game for biting Senators captain Brady Tkachuk’s hand during a scrum in the third period. Tkachuk wasn’t pleased, calling what Lemieux did “the most gutless thing somebody could ever do” following the game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lemieux could also earn supplemental discipline for his antics. He bit Tkachuk’s hand hard enough to draw blood.

An overtime goal by rookie Lucas Raymond gave the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, handing the latter their fifth loss in six games. The Sabres’ Jeff Skinner sent the game to overtime with the tying goal late in the third period.

The Dallas Stars picked up their fourth straight win by nipping the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Braden Holtby made 25 saves for the Stars, Joe Pavelski had two assists and Roope Hintz scored his seventh goal in his last eight games.

St. Louis Blues forwards Pavel Buchnevich and Ivan Barbashev each scored twice in a 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko collected three assists. Jackets defenseman Adam Boqvist scored twice for the Jackets. Before the game, the Blues placed winger James Neal on injured reserve.

The Winnipeg Jets overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Calgary Flames 4-2. Kyle Connor led the way with two goals for the Jets to snap a five-game skid while ending the Flames’ win streak at four games. Flames winger Milan Lucic was ejected in the second period for boarding Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Artemi Panarin was fined $5,000.00 for throwing one of his hockey gloves at Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand on Friday. Panarin said he was incensed over Russia-related insults made toward him by Marchand.

NEWSOBERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov was fined $5,000.00 for kneeing Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton on Friday.

NEW YORK POST: The NHL has postponed the New York Islanders’ next two games through Nov. 30 after Casey Cizikas became the eighth player on the club to test positive for COVID-19.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday placed goaltender Matt Murray on waivers. He’s expected to report to their AHL affiliate in Belleville if he goes unclaimed today. The Senators also claimed forward Adam Gaudette off waivers yesterday from the Chicago Blackhawks.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers forward Nate Thompson missed practice yesterday after suffering a shoulder injury during Friday’s game against the Hurricanes.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – July 27, 2021

With the NHL free-agent market opening July 28, here’s the latest on the goalie market, Ryan Getzlaf’s status with the Ducks and updates on the Canadiens and Kraken in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE OFFSEASON GOALIE MARKET

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports talks between the Colorado Avalanche and goaltender Philipp Grubauer are expected to go down to the wire before the free-agent market opens at noon ET on July 28. The Avs are holding firm with an offer of five years and $5 million annually while the Grubauer camp seeks over $6 million per season.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (NHL Images).

The Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs view Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper as a primary trade target but the asking price is high. The Chicago Blackhawks are among several teams with an interest in Vancouver Canucks netminder Braden Holtby. The Vegas Golden Knights have dangled Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury at varying points this season.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports have an interest in Kuemper and Carolina’s Petr Mrazek. They haven’t made a contract offer to former starter Frederik Andersen. He thinks Andersen could be on the Hurricanes’ shortlist.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting a deal for one of the Golden Knights’ goaltenders fell through over the weekend. It was either Fleury going to the Blackhawks or Lehner heading to the New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can expect a fair bit of jockeying over the next couple of days as teams attempt to address their goalie needs via trades and/or free agency.

Grubauer’s situation will be interesting. The Avs wouldn’t have clinched this year’s Presidents’ Trophy without him but he was shaky in their second-round series against Vegas. Nevertheless, I don’t see a better option in the trade or free-agent markets.

Kuemper is the best of the bunch after Grubauer but he carries a $4.5 million cap hit for next season, has a recent injury history and is slated to become a UFA next summer. The Coyotes asking price is likely a high draft pick and/or a top prospect or young NHL-ready player.

The Lehner to New Jersey rumor caught my eye. The Devils seemed keen on young Mackenzie Blackwood as their starter. I assumed they’d want a reliable backup to mentor him. Lehner, however, is a full-fledged starter. If the Devils were trying to get him that suggests they have less confidence in Blackwood than originally thought.

It sounds like the Leafs are scouting the market for someone to share the goalie duties with Jack Campbell. If they don’t find anything that fits within their limited cap space perhaps they’ll circle back to Andersen, provided another club hasn’t snapped him up.

COULD GETZLAF HIT THE MARKET?

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Anaheim Ducks and captain Ryan Getzlaf aren’t close to a new contract but he doesn’t rule out the possibility that they’ll get one done. Nevertheless, the 36-year-old center is readying himself to hear offers from clubs on Wednesday if he’s still unsigned by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Eric Stephens reports the Ducks want to bring back Getzlaf. He suggested the speculation about the captain leaving might be to put a bit of pressure on the Ducks. We’ll see what transpires. Despite his age and declining production, he will attract plenty of interest in the free-agent market.

WHO COULD THE CANADIENS TARGET IN FREE AGENCY?

TVA SPORTS: Rumors are circulating suggesting the Montreal Canadiens could sign Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman David Savard and Carolina Hurricanes forward Cedric Paquette when the UFA market opens on Wednesday.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston took to Twitter reporting Chris Wideman is a “good bet” to land with the Canadiens via free agency. The 31-year-old defenseman is coming off a productive season in the KHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are looking to fill the gap on defense with Shea Weber sidelined for next season (and possibly longer). They’ll also need some checking-line depth if they lose center Phillip Danault to free agency. One rumor claims Wideman already has a one-year deal in place with the Habs that will be announced tomorrow.

KRAKEN EXPECTED TO BE BUSY IN UFA MARKET

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the expansion Seattle Kraken are expected to be active in the upcoming free-agent market. They have lots of cap space to invest. LeBrun believes they’ll circle back on St. Louis Blues’ left winger Jaden Schwartz and make him a concrete offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken have over $30 million in projected cap space. They have sufficient room to re-sign their four restricted free agents (including Vince Dunn) and make a splash or two in the UFA pool for someone like Schwartz.